Sunday, October 30, 2011

Granada - Sierra Nevada .. Alhambra

Granada translates in English to pomegranate. This Spanish city is full of charm and mystery situated at the foot of the Sierra Nevada. This was the last of the Arab strongholds in Spain which was conquered by the Christians in 1492.

I remember visiting this place many years ago heading over the Sierra Nevada mountain range. I can still remember the 1/2 cooked burger and the horses being made to pull carts in the searing heat over sand dunes. Whilst travelling in this area in my early twenties I also have memory's of meeting a young man from Belgium who was on his last stage of his travelling before heading back to Belgium to be called into the countries National Army Service. Funny how things back to from time to time.

The city of Granada is truly spectacular we were lucky enough to be able to wander about in the city before joining our tour guide for lunch. It was here we met a lovely lady from Scotland.

We had a lovely lunch in a restaurant off one of the busy city streets. The city had its fair share of poverty with the odd beggar sitting in doorways. I am so glad Aaron gets to experience all these different cultures and see`s for himself how life is so very different for some peoplle.

After lunch we headed up to The Alhambra Complex the most visited monument of Andalusia
This is world known as the best conserved example of Islamic architecture in Spain.

The Alhambra is famous as a Moorish palace as well as the Alcazaba fortress that guarded it and the Generalife which was a summer palace all within its foundation and gardens.

The Alhambra stands at the foot of the Sierra Nevada which is Spain`s highest mountain range. It also overlooks the city of Granada.

It is certainly one of the most brilliant jewels of universal architecture. It was built under the Nazari Dynasty in the 14th century.

Here lived the last Arabic King - Boabdil until 1492. At the centre of the Alhambra stands the massive palace of Charles V.

Other major Christian monuments found in the city are the Cathedral of Santa Maria de la Encarnacion ( 1523 - 1703 ) including the Royal Chapel where Isabel and Ferdinand ( the world famous Catholic Monarchs are buried )

The hill facing the Alhambra is the old Moorish casbah or Medina called the Albaicin. This is a fascinating labyrinth of narrow streets and whitewashed houses with patios.

The Scaromonte hill which overlooks the city from the North is famous for its cave. It was once the home of Granada`s gypsies and today is a place to enjoy the Flamenco music.

The Alhambra and Generalife were declared a UNESCO world heritage site in 1984.

With the help of our tour guide Aaron learnt allot about ancient Spain. He learned about the building, life in the old times, about the Moorish community, kings of recent centuries and the Arabic times of the Alhambra. His eyes lite up when he learned of the Sultans and their many wives.

The views from the gardens were spectacular. At the back you could see the snow capped tops of the Sierra Navada Mountain Range. This was a wonderful day out steeped with Spanish history.

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